2. Service Standards

The service standards project aims to develop new voluntary service standards for osteopathic practice which will help osteopaths demonstrate the quality of care they provide.

Why are service standards relevant to me as an osteopath?

If you are an osteopath and want to be able to demonstrate the quality of the service you provide to patients and others, or just want to be able to know that your practice meets these high standards, then the osteopathic service standards may be important to you.

Why are service standards important for the development of the profession?

How can people who are not osteopaths judge the quality of the service they receive from their osteopath? Do the services they provide and the environment in which they are delivered meet an acceptable standard?

These are some of the questions asked by patients, insurers and commissioners of healthcare services. The osteopathic services standards will provide a framework that will allow osteopath to answer them.

How can I get involved?

When the standards are finalised you will be able to download them and use them to self-assess the quality of the service you provide. Over time we are also looking to develop a voluntary accreditation scheme to support the standards.

Project background


Osteopathy is excluded from the legislation requiring healthcare providers to register with the Care Quality Commission in England (and the equivalent bodies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), or in England to be licensed by Monitor where providing services to the NHS. As such, there are currently no defined service standards for osteopathic practice.

Examples of where there has been an increasing focus on quality of healthcare provision include but are not limited to:

  • The development of Any Qualified Provider services in England
  • The efforts by BUPA to ensure uniform quality standards across commissioned services
  • The findings of the Francis inquiry in relation to care standards.

This project aims to explore the range of quality standards that are in use elsewhere in UK healthcare, formulate definitions for osteopathic service quality and develop an associated scheme to give osteopaths and their practices the opportunity to achieve some form of voluntary accreditation.

This would exceed the basic clinical practice standards expected of GOsC registration (i.e. the undergraduate qualification and the Osteopathic Practice Standards). It would also focus more on providing an explicit description of the requirements that service providers should meet and the outcomes that patients should be able to expect, such as the suitability of premises/equipment, and ensure that good communication, customer services skills and patient feedback is at the heard of all osteopathic service provision.

Such a scheme would provide assurance to patients, commissioners of services and other healthcare professionals that appropriate standards are in place when they seek to commission or use osteopathic healthcare services. It is also potentially a source of professional pride for osteopaths who achieve such service accreditation, and may encourage further evolution of standards in the future.

Initial research phase/s


A first draft of the standards was produced in October 2014, adapted for the osteopathic context from the work of the Care Quality Commission and others.

Discussions among the Osteopathic Development Group members and wider consultation took place in 2014 and 2015. This was promoted to osteopaths, patients and external stakeholders, including insurers and system regulators and the project team analysed all responses.

After appropriate revisions were made, this was then implemented as a Patient Charter by the Institute of Osteopathy which they are encouraging all osteopaths to sign up to voluntarily and display in their practices.

The next phase of the project will be to develop a self-assessment tool and supporting guidelines for the service standards themselves, enabling osteopaths to benchmark their own practice against these standards. This might then lead on to the development of an accreditation mark that osteopaths could use to communicate the fact that they are applying the service standards to the other stakeholders mentioned above.

Project team

The project team includes representatives from the Institute of Osteopathy (Sarah North, Matthew Rogers) and the General Osteopathic Council (Tim Walker).


Tim Walker: twalker@osteopathy.org

Sarah North: sarahn@iosteopathy.org